Retail Distribution Review
The financial services industry is currently preparing for one of the biggest reviews of regulation since the Financial Services Act was introduced in 1986. The Retail Distribution Review(“RDR”) was instigated with the objective of both improving the overall image of the industry and introducing more transparency into the process of receiving advice.
In a series of briefings over the coming months we will detail the key changes, which will come in to effect from 1st January 2013, and outline what they will mean to the consumer.
Part One – An Introduction to RDR
In this first article we summarise the key proposals of the RDR.
Raising Professional Standards
A multi-faceted approach to raising professional standards for all advisers will be introduced, this will include:
- A requirement for all advisers to be qualified to a new, higher level
- Introduction of a code of ethics
- Enhanced standards for continuing professional development; and
- A new Statement of Professional Standing
These new standards will be maintained and enforced through the creation of a Professional Standards Board.
Greater Clarity for Consumers
A distinction between ‘independent advice’ and ‘restricted advice’(non-independent advice) services will be introduced. Firms that describe their advice as independent will be required to consider all products and providers that could meet a client’s needs free from any restrictions or bias.
In addition, the potential for adviser remuneration (commission) to bias advice will be removed by requiring advisers to set their own charges in agreement with their clients – this will be known as ‘adviser charging’ and will prevent product providers from offering pre-determined levels of commission.
We welcome any attempt to clarify the different levels of advice that clients may receive, as well as the introduction of greater clarity for clients in terms of charges. For too long some advisers have provided so called “fee free advice” which has been paid for through high front end commissions. Greater transparency and a level playing field should in the long term be in clients’ best interests.
In terms of professionalism, at Fiducia we have always maintained a culture of highest professional standards and all our advisers belong to professional bodies which have codes of ethics and stringent continuing professional development requirements. Our advisers either currently hold qualifications that will meet the RDR criteria or are well on their way to achieving that standard.
We will be expanding on the detail of the RDR proposals over the coming year.